Fees to rise at Fairfax County rec centers, golf courses in 2024

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George Washington Rec Center on Old Mount Vernon Road

The Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) Board voted Dec. 13 to approve proposed adjustments to the 2024 Park Authority Fee Schedule, meaning that patrons of local rec centers like George Washington and Franconia Rec, and golf courses like Laurel Hill Golf Club, will pay slightly higher fees starting in the new year.

The reasons behind the fee increase, according to FCPA’s 2024 Proposed Fee Adjustments Proposal, involve several system-wide considerations, including increases in employee compensation and benefits. The Park Authority Revenue Fund has been “significantly impacted” by compensation increases that will continue into 2024, noted FCPA, and the Park Authority has had to make several increases to baseline pay rates, including offering signing and retention bonuses for difficult to fill summer positions. All in all, FCPA expects total employee compensation increases to amount to around $2.7 million in FY 2024, which runs through June 30, 2024.

The Park Authority is also still recovering from the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. While FCPA’s Revenue and Operating Fund (ROF) generated a positive net in FY 2022 and 2023, the Park Authority needs to rebuild its 10% ROF reserve that was depleted during the pandemic and reinvest in the maintenance of its facilities, according to the proposal.

Local residents have been increasingly using FCPA facilities. In FY 2023, the total number of golf rounds played increased by 6% over the previous year, and revenue rose by 14%. Rec center attendance increased by 31% from FY 2022 to FY 2023, while revenues increased by 17%, noted FCPA.

Under the new fee schedule, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2024, Fairfax County residents can expect to see the following fee increases at local rec centers:

Credit: Fairfax County Park Authority

There also will be an increase in price for discount fast passes (covering 25 admissions) at all rec centers, and the passes will now expire after one year instead of two years. Rental rates for all indoor swimming pools and for the ampitheater at Franconia Rec Center will rise as well.

This is the first time that entrance fees at county rec centers have risen for adults since 2017; for youth/seniors since 2012; and for families since 2019. The FCPA proposal noted that the Park Authority prefers to adopt “regular, gradual fee increases rather than infrequent, but larger increases that are more disruptive to its customers.”

County golf facilities will also see price hikes. At Laurel Hill Golf Club in Lorton, the maximum greens fees for 18 holes on weekdays will rise from $89 to $95 and on weekends from $119 to $129. Those fees had already gone up $10 this past spring.

There will be a nominal increase in fees for larger buckets of golf balls at Laurel Hill's driving range, and driving range pass fees will be eliminated. Instead, a new driving range “loyalty card” with discounts will be introduced.

Additionally, annual membership rates at Laurel Hill will go up in the new year — from the current $6,000 for an individual full golf membership to $6,250; and from $4,500 for an individual weekday golf membership to $4,750.

Based on these fee changes, the Park Authority hopes to generate over a million dollars in new revenue; however, staff identified some additional “conditional” fee adjustments that could be instituted if the Park Authority’s expenses are more than projected. Those across-the-board fee increases would take effect in FY 2025, which begins July 1, 2024.

The Park Authority Board’s recent approval of the adjusted fee schedule took place after its review of community feedback on the proposed changes. During a Nov. 15 virtual public meeting, representatives of Nature Forward and the Fairfax Parks Coalition advocated for changes in the current fee-based system to ensure equity. Both organizations urged the FCPA Board to ask the Board of Supervisors for additional and sustainable funding from the General Fund. At present, user fees comprise approximately 60% of the Park Authority’s operating budget.

Frequently asked questions about Park Authority fees can be found on the agency’s website, and the updated fee schedule will be available as of Jan. 1.

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